In F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, the American Dream is an important motif that is symbolized throughout the story. Some of the most notable of these symbols are Gatsby's love interest Daisy Buchanan, the green light from Daisy's dock, Gatsby's extravagant parties, and Gatsby himself.
The novel's protagonist, Jay Gatsby, symbolizes both the corrupted and uncorrupted American Dream. He is so obsessed with attaining wealth and prestige that he resorts to underhanded schemes and materialistic behavior. Still, he is unfulfilled. His desire to obtain the American Dream had earnest beginnings, but his fate indicates the illusionary and unattainable nature of the promised Dream.
Gatsby's lavish parties are another symbol of the American Dream, as they are representative of the carefree nature of American society during the 1920s. This was a time when the American Dream felt very real to people, especially those immigrating to America. However, the Great Depression was merely years away. Gatsby's over-the-top parties may have entertaining spectacles, but they were hollow and desperate attempts for a dream that would never be.
Daisy Buchanan fully embodies the American Dream for Gatsby. She is beautiful, sophisticated, aristocratic, and unattainable. This is partly why he would stare out at the green light from her dock. For some time, that was the only physical sign he had of her. In that sense, the green light symbolized Daisy and the dream that Daisy represents. It is a dream that is highly desired but unattainable. It is an illusion of something wonderful that Gatsby could not have.